"Learn Navajo one word at a time"

Thumbnail preview of the Navajo Starter Kit Companion E-Book.

Learn Navajo

We made the Navajo Starter Kit to help you learn Navajo.

Learn more

hane' binaaltsoos


hun neh bin alt tsoh hs

Today’s a perfect day for the Navajo word for newspaper.

When you use hane’, you’re talking about either a tale, or story, or else the history of something. For example, you may come across Diné bahane’ which refers to the history, or story of the Navajo people.

And then you have naaltsoos, which is an umbrella term for paper and books. With the third person possessive enclitic (bí-), it become binaaltsoos which is essentially it’s paper.

Together you achieve a word that mirrors the description of a newspaper.

There is also a variant that uses aseezį́ – the Navajo word for gossip – in place of hane’. Nowadays, this would refer to a tabloid or periodicals of that nature.

On the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Times publishes its newspaper every Thursday. Before the Navajo Times was Ádahooníłígíí, which was explained in an earlier post as meaning “the area’s happenings/occurances/current events”.


to know someone or how

beh hus sin

Similar to yesterday’s word, bééhasin has to do with the knowledge of other people or a skill. In particular, it means ‘to know (either a person or how to do something)’.

This verb is conjugated, so the word alters depending on point-of-view. Here they are:

  • bééhasin (also: báhasin, or bééhonisin) (speaking about one’s self)
  • bééhonísin (speaking about the person you’re speaking to)
  • yééhósin (speaking about someone not in the conversation)
  • bééhoniilzin (about one’s self and another person)
  • bééhonohsin (about the person you’re speaking to and another)
  • yééhósin (about two people not in the conversation)
  • béédahoniilzin (about one’s self and two or more other people)
  • béédahonohsin (about the person you’re speaking to and two or more people)
  • yéédahósin (about a group of three or more people)

In the last three plural forms you’ll notice -da-. This is a pluralizing word particle that’s used for both verbs and nouns (dabilį́į́’, for example, means “those peoples’ horses”; da + bí + łį́į́’).

Richard Ben Shelly yééhósin. (Richard knows Ben Shelly.)


to know

beh hoze in

In Navajo bééhózin is a verb that means that something is known, or that knowledge about something exists.

Navajo verbs often change form based on point of view, but bééhózin doesn’t need to change. For example, shił bééhózin becomes nił bééhózin or bił bééhózin when the point of view changes from the first to either the second or third (ie. “I know” -> “you know” or “he/she/it knows”).

You may want to express the opposite, or ‘…do not know’, in which case you negate using doo … da. “I do not know” is “Doo shił bééhózin da”, “You do not know” is “Doo nił bééhózin da”, and “He/she/it does not know” is “Doo bił bééhózin da”.

In general, this is a more respectful way of saying “I don’t know.” Another expression, hóla (hwólah, wólah), could mean “I don’t know and I don’t care”. It’s less formal and should be used when there is absolutely no confusion over connotation.

Ayóo anííníshní

I love you in Navajo

uh yoh uh knee nish nih

In Navajo, the word ayóó denotes the same as “a lot” in the English language. But it’s not so much about quantity as it is about magnitude. “Very” is a good word, too.

Ánííníshní refers more literally to someone’s regard for another. It’s nearly the equivalent of “I have a regard for you.” This verb needs context, and with this particular word, stands on its own.

Together, this phrase is understood to mean “I love you” or “I adore you.”

It conveys the understanding that the person doesn’t just have a regard for another, but a very high regard with much esteem.

Ayóó ánóshní is another commonly used phrase (some say it may be slang, others will say it’s perfectly unadapted).

Reposted because it’s Valentine’s Day!



nah ha-ee

Here is a Navajo word that reflects the passage of time. It means “year” in reference to the complete passage of one year.

Preceded by a number, such as naadiin ła’ (21), nááhai becomes “years” and, in this case, would mean “(for) 20 21 years”.

Shinááhai is a way to saying “my years” as in “I am 21 years old” (naadiin ła’ shinááhai – 21 [are] my years). Change this to ninááhai or binááhai and you have “your years” or “his/her/its years”, respectively.

“Díkwíí-shą’ ninááhai?” “What about you – how much are your years?”